Poisonous! (In The Best Possible Way)

Opera lovers tend to fall in a number of different camps.  There are staunch Wagner lovers who sit for three hours just to get to “Leibestod,” the final aria from Tristan und Isolde.  There are those who swear by Puccini for life and who don’t speak Italian, but can say, “Yes, they call me Mimi, but my real name is Lucia” with a perfect accent. Everyone can agree, however, that love triangles, revenge plots, and small vials of poison will never go out of style – especially not at the opera.  We can also agree that opera singers all have this thrilling ability to steal you from your everyday and throw you into a world of daggers and betrothals.

Baroque composer extraordinaire George Handel’s Tamerlano is in good company. A three-act opera in Italian that follows the story of Bajazet, his daughter Asteria, the evil Emperor Tamerlano, love-struck Andronico, and the confused Irene; it’s more than just a love triangle.

LA Opera’s Tamerlano, which opens November 21, will feature General Director Placido Domingo in the role of Turkish Sultan Bajazet – the gallant father trying to prevent his daughter’s marriage to the malicious Tamerlano. Audiences will undoubtedly be listening for every note that leaves Placido’s famous lips – he has bridged the gap between famous opera singer and household name.  The title character will be played by countertenor Bejun Mehta who has performed at the Royal Opera House in London, the Opera National de Paris, and who marks his return to LA Opera with this role.  Asteria, played by Sarah Coburn, is a part that features some of opera’s most enticing, electric, and technically challenging singing.

While Bajazet sits in chains in Tamerlano’s court, the emperor devises a plan to marry Asteria – he asks Andronico (also in love with Asteria) to relay his message to Bajazet: give me your daughter’s hand in marriage in return for your freedom.  He sweetens the deal by promising his own fiancée, Irene, to Andronico for his trouble.  When Tamerlano reveals his scheme to Asteria, she is shocked and dismayed – mostly by Andronico’s seeming betrayal.  What follows is an operatic series of suicide notes, changes of mind and heart, and a healthy amount of poison.  Handel proves again that it’s not the Italian that can trip you up at the opera, it’s the story itself!

LA Opera’s Tamerlano runs November 21 through December 1.  We recommend getting your tickets early – Placido’s in this one, it will sell out!  Please call (213) 972-8001 or click here for more information.

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